Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lake Osborne Heights Featured in Palm Beach Post

Click title for link...Nice quote from Robert Waples...thanks for all that you do!

As contained in the 7/22/11 City Manager's Report: "Only for the Brave"

Click title for link to entire 2012 proposed budget and City Manager's 73 page message.  Did you know that Lake Worth has 950 fire hydrants?  There is all sorts of miscellany at the beginning of the document - including two (2) maps showing where Lake Worth is.  Perhaps that is for the benefit of those "working" in utilities customer service.

I am digging into it now.

PBC Fire Rescue Meeting today Saturday 23 June @ Brogue’s Down Under at 1:30 p.m. by Karri Casper

Public Safety Comes First and that is why it is so imperative that we gather together today as a community. Our Voices must be Heard.

At the Thursday, 21 July meeting when the Willdan Fire Feasibility Study was presented; it once again was not a complete report. It is lacking in monetary assessments that are imperative before making a critical choice and in no way is it acceptable for basing a sound financial decision on.

Once again, the public was gathered in expectation of public comment. It was voiced from the dais that it would be permitted. Quite a few of the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue were in attendance; Fire Chief Steve Jerauld, Deputy Chief Ron Beesley, Battalion 3 Chief Mike Arena, Battalion 4 Chief Chuck Lupo, Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County, Inc. 1st Legislative Vice President Fred Angelo, 2nd Legislative Vice President AJ O'Laughlin and many others.

The tennis volley started again, Now there was going to be NO public comment. For a while it appeared Fire Chief Steve Jerauld was not going to be permitted to speak AFTER being asked to do so by the commission.

And THIS is how we Thank them for their service? This is how we thank them for SAVING us money? Because once again, the service we receive from PBC Fire Rescue costs less than what it would for us to operate our own fire department.

The commission will be voting THIS Thursday 28 July whether or not to break the contract with the deadline of August 1st for notification to Palm Beach County. Don’t forget we are already behind in our payments. Payments that are IN our Present Budget. What is wrong with this picture?

Once again, it is left up to the residents, citizens and business owners of Lake Worth to scramble together so our voices might have the opportunity of being heard.

We do hope you will join us. We apologize for the late notice, but only had Friday to put this together. There will be representatives from the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue in attendance. Let’s demonstrate to them how much we appreciate all they do for us.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Response from Mayor Waterman


I respect your intellect and am confident that you will make an appropriate decision as to when you feel comfortable that I am indeed an independent thinking, strong woman who relies on my own intellect, experience, and education to make informed decisions. 

I have open office hours on (disregard - see belowWednesdays from 9:30am to 12:30pm and on Thursdays from 4:00pm to 7:00pm unless another meeting supersedes them.  Please plan to come by during those times.  I would be happy to schedule something with you but my schedule is already full for the next few weeks as I am meeting with City staff quite a bit in my first few weeks as Mayor. 

Feel free to post my open office hours on your blog.

My response:

Thanks for getting back to me so soon. I will post your open office hours - a real good idea. I'd also like to assure you that I would harbor the same concerns if you were a man. The point of my communication was to say that I think I can put those concerns aside now.

Received from Mayor Waterman on 7/22:

I gave you the wrong open hours. It is tuesday mornings 9:30 to 12:30 and Thursdays 4 to 7. Please note that special commission meetings may interrupt Thursday evening hours. I will set up a way to post a notice but you may want to let your viewers know to check the calendar or of course stop by. Thanks. 

Debate still burning in Lake Worth about fire protection | worth, lake, fire - WPEC 12 West Palm Beach

The story last night according to Channel 12 - Notice the "Fanning the Flames of Indecision" headline.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ramiccio won't run for Lake Worth mayor in November

And then again, click title for link to PBP article.

This comment was left under the fire assessment levy post...

Saw something REALLY funny yesterday. Vice Mayor Suzanne Mulvehill was slinking around the casino sight taking pictures, no doubt documenting her "saving" of the casino. That's not the funny part. The funny part was that she looked real uncomfortable and obviously didn't want anyone to see her. What a joke.

If true, that would indeed be a time when a picture of someone taking a picture would be a good idea.  Is she pondering "plausible deniability" that she didn't know the extent of the demolition?  I don't think that is plausible at all.  There is good reason that she should feel sheepish about what is going on there and there just might be some inquiries taking place...just sayin'.  Time will tell.

My letter to Mayor Waterman: "My sincere congratulations..."

Mayor Waterman:

Congratulations on your July 12th win.  As with all things, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!  I hope that your term is successful and that the city benefits from your efforts.

I still question the wisdom of your predecessor, Mayor Varela, and the timing of his resignation.  In fact, I question his decision not to finish his term at all and believe that he truly misled the citizenry in his state of the city address last February - saying that even though he would not be running again, he would not quit and "run right through the finish line."  Well, so much for promises made by politicians.  As a result, we incurred the expense and effort of two elections, and you happened to come out on top.  It is my opinion that we would have experienced the same result, given the support you had from the majority of dais members. The only difference being that, had you been appointed, you would be in office without the explicit permission of the electorate.  Come November, you and your supporters would then have been in the position to defend your selection.  With your election, you can now go forward without that "baggage" - and this is a good thing if it is your intent to lead the city beyond this three month or so period to which you have been elected.

Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to really meet and talk before the election(s). We both share a background in community planning and economic development and I am sure that we would have a lot to talk about as it relates to Lake Worth.  Two days after the election, I left Lake Worth for a pre-scheduled vacation and missed your swearing-in ceremony.  If I had still been in town, I surely would have attended, taken pictures and included them in my blog - right side up this time - LOL.  I speak for myself, but I also believe for my blog's readers, in thanking you for your responses to their questions prior to the election.  The blog enjoys a significant and loyal following by people concerned with the future of Lake Worth and I am sure your answers helped determine their decision on who to vote for Mayor.

As I am sure you are aware, I did not support your campaign and chose instead to support Lisa Maxwell and then Tom Ramiccio in the run-off.  Lisa happens to be a long-standing friend and associate of mine - we served on the Planning, Zoning, Historic Resource Preservation Board together for a span of years.  She was also endorsed by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council - which did not endorse you in the first election for some reason, why I am still not sure.  I did not agree with all of Ms. Maxwell's opinions and approaches, but thought that she was the best choice given the limited field of candidates.  As you know, ours is an imperfect system where the best candidates are sometimes those that are not on the ballot and we are left to choose from those that have made the sacrifices necessary to run a campaign and are committed to serve in an elected office.  Ms. Maxwell would have been a forceful and knowledgeable presence on the dais had she been chosen by the majority of the electorate to do so.

The same can be said for Tom Ramiccio had he been elected in the run-off election.  There are many in our community that share his strong stand in support of the business community and they should be listened to regardless of the result of the election.  My support of Tom was based upon what I perceive as a need for balance on the City Commission and what has turned out to be an "insular" decision-making process.  I am concerned that the Commissioners who supported your campaign do not always reflect the opinion of a broad section of our community, but represent a small interest group bent on pursuing a certain ideology instead of what is best for the future financial soundness and safety of the city.  This is what prevented me from supporting you in the recent elections.

That is not to say that I did not have reservations about Tom Ramiccio being Mayor again.  I had misgivings related to his style of leadership, some sources of his campaign funds and, simply, that to me he represented the past and not the future of Lake Worth.  We need fresh approaches to solve the problems that the city faces so that we can meet the future with a better place in which to live, work and play.  Not voting was also not an option for me - I am a super voter to the extreme.

So, now I face the following question: "When is it alright to suspend disbelief that you will not be a puppet figure of those that so strongly supported your campaign for Mayor?"  Will you be able to act independently based upon the information put before you?  People that supported your campaign have, in the past, done everything they could to make sure that I would not end up in a position where I would be making decisions as a representative of Lake Worth residents.  These actions included telling falsehoods and making personal attacks that I still hear about from friends that were approached by the same people who supported you in your campaign.  So, I ask again, when is it alright to suspend disbelief that you are any different from your supporters?

The main reason I am writing this letter to you is that I am willing to say that time is NOW.  I would like to meet with you to discuss this concern first and get your assurance that the time is indeed now and also talk about other concerns and problems related to the future of Lake Worth.  I am sure that we agree this is a critical time for the city and one that requires the harnessing of talents held by many residents that have been excluded, or feel that they have been excluded, in our process of local governance.

My schedule is likely more flexible than yours so I can meet based upon your availability.  Please get back to me with a time and we will set a date.  I would also like to apologize for anything that you might have found offensive in my blog during the campaign - either items that I posted or comments made by my readers.  I have a very open policy regarding what comments I allow and see a need to maintain that policy in order to encourage active and honest debate in our community.  

Thank your for your time taken in reading this letter and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.  I am more than ready to help with the tasks at hand.

Wes Blackman
Lake Worth Resident

Levy fair fire assessment

The PBP's slavish devotion to the city administration continues. The bottom line is that everyone would pay more and it would allow the city to increase its millage to what would be beyond the maximum 10 mil limit - in essence. Given the accounting standards present in the utilities department, can we depend on paying lower electric rates by reducing the subsidy to the general fund from the utility? And where do pensions fall into this equation? How is the County Commission going to receive this proposal to amend the agreement when we are already in arrears on the supplemental payment? When are we going to get around to attracting investment that adds to the city's property tax base? Click title for link.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

From Tree Frog, one of my local correspondents, who attended last night's Commission Meeting - re Utility Customer Service and Billing

The hot button on this REVISED agenda was item 11. C. The last item, which omitted the information that it was an emergency request from the LAKE WORTH UTILITIES asking for $123,000.00 to renew the existing 3 month ($70,000) contract with “Government Services Group”  so that they could immediately hire 16 NEW customer service representatives, who would replace the existing 10 City Employees, who according to the City Manager and Becky, the Supervisor at LAKE WORTH UTILITIES are “non functional”, and unable to perform their jobs, resulting in the backlog of over 400 Utility Bills, one over $100,000.00 for a period of over 90 days.    There were some old uncashed checks found in the vault recently, one of them for $150,000.00.   Mayor Waterman, at her first meeting, had a copy of the contract and said that the extension clause calls for a prorated one month extension, and rather than ask for $123,000.00 that we utilize the $23,000.00 option instead.

Supervisor Becky, nearly in tears at times, was most depressed, and seemed to be hitting a brick wall with the level of incompetence, echoed by City Manager Susan who said “There is an attitude of complete lack of interest for their function of customer service, and there exists a cult of incompetence and they just don’t give a damn.”
Becky said that after the recent retirement of 3 supervisors, NOTHING IS BEING BILLED, BECAUSE THE SUPERVISORS DID ALL OF THE BILLING THEMSELVES.  They didn’t delegate the billing to their employees, echoed Commissioner Maxwell.
Becky admitted that the number of customer complaints has not been reduced, nor has the billing cycle been “on time” from meter reading to final bill, resulting in losses of thousands of dollars of revenue in a timely fashion.   She said that the system is “Broken to the core”.

Improvement of physical plant has resulted in fewer power outages, according to Becky, but the complete cycle of meter reading to billing has fallen apart.
Part of the problem is having to deal with 2 unions, and stupid things like forbidding the personal use of cell phones while at work, IS BEING DISREGARDED BY THESE 10 EMPLOYEES.  

Commissioner Maxwell asked how long it takes to file an employee complaint, and the answer was:   There are 4 levels of employee notification of unsatisfactory performance. 
#1 is mostly a verbal warning  
#2 is the same thing in writing  
#3 mostly involves theft and immediate dismissal 
#4 can take up to 18 months and has an OPTIONAL termination allowed.

Mayor Waterman asked what the “Government Services Group” had reported thus far, and Becky said, nothing in writing,  that it was just a verbal report only to herself and City Manager Susan.   The Mayor then asked for a written report or presentation prior to the August 2 meeting.
Since the two commissioners, Golden and McVoy had already made and seconded a motion  to pay the $123,000, they both asked some questions at this time, but then decided to table this motion until the meeting on August 2, when a presentation would have to be made on the prior Friday, by the “Government Services Group”   McVoy suggested that it may be in the interest of the City to have our own employees, rather than persons hired by the consultant.

BE SURE TO ATTEND THE THURSDAY MEETING July 21, 6 PM, WHERE FIRE/RESCUE WILL BE THE HOT BUTTON and Willdan group gives their report on PBC Fire Rescue.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Still the biggest news to the Palm Beach Post a week later...

Notice that "trounced" has been changed to "easily beats" and "outdistanced" - click title for link.  It was still up as of 7/19 at 9:10 a.m.  Slow news week?

Bowdoin College Museum of Art - Edward Hopper's Maine

Visiting this exhibit today...

Yesterday on Casco Bay...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Click here for Willdan Feasibility Study for Fire Services

Special City Commission meeting scheduled for 7/21 at 6 p.m. to discuss.  One telling line from the City Manager's introduction to the report:

It is truly unfortunate that these Fire agreements were signed prior to the City having the sharpest decline in property tax values in Palm Beach County.  

And why would that be so?

Sunday, July 17, 2011